6 Big iPhone 14 Pro Camera Secrets Apple Never Told Us About

iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are the only iPhone 14 models to receive a major camera upgrade for the wide-angle lens. Apple has introduced a 48-megapixel sensor that replaces the previous 12-megapixel camera, but only on iPhone 14 Pro models.

However, this does not mean that all the photos you take with the new camera system will be 48 megapixels. Apple has already explained its pixel binning technology, which combines four pixels into virtual larger pixels for low-light shooting. The resulting photos are 12-megapixel images.

It turns out there are a lot of interesting secrets about the iPhone 14 Pro’s 48MP sensor that Apple didn’t reveal during the event.

How to activate 48MP photos on iPhone 14 Pro

If you paid attention during Apple’s iPhone 14 keynote, you may remember that Apple stated that the 48MP lens optimizes light capture “for most photos.” This means that most images will be 12-megapixel photos using the phone’s quad-pixel technology.

Apple also emphasized how practical the 12-megapixel photo size is, and it has to do with storage space.

How to Enable 48MP Photos on iPhone 14 Pro.
How to Enable 48MP Photos on iPhone 14 Pro. Image Source: Chris Smith, BGR

In practice, this means that you will have to activate the 48-megapixel photos manually. Not only that, you have to shoot in ProRAW to get true 48MP images.

Head to Settings application, then Cameraand look for Formats. turn on AppleProRAW and then tap ProRAW Resolution menu. Here you can choose between 48MP and 12MP resolution for your ProRAW images.

Now go to Camera app and make sure RAW option is enabled. This is the only way to capture images on the iPhone 14 Pro at a maximum resolution of 48 megapixels.

Light is the best friend of the iPhone 14 Pro camera

When you go into the Settings app to enable 48MP ProRAW mode, you’ll be reminded that ProRAW photos will need a lot of light.

ProRAW photos with a 1x wide-angle lens can be saved at either 12MP or 48MP. Night mode, flash photos and macro shots will always be saved at 12MP.

The iPhone 14 Pro’s camera algorithms (Photonic Engine) will automatically take 12-megapixel photos by combining four pixels into four pixels whenever you take pictures at night, use flash, or take macro shots.

There is another important detail in the same menu above. Apple has introduced a new 2x telephoto (zoom) option for the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. But the resulting photos are still 12 megapixel images. This is what Apple said on stage during the event.

iPhone 14 Pro in space black on a wooden table
iPhone 14 Pro in Space Black on a wooden table Image Source: Jonathan Geller BGR

48-megapixel photos take longer to process

Another iPhone 14 Pro camera secret that Apple didn’t mention is processing speed. The A16 Bionic facilitates many camera improvements in the new Pro models. But 48-megapixel ProRAW images will take longer to process.

This should not be a problem for professional photo shoots. But extra seconds of processing time can cause you to miss some frames in real situations.

However, most people probably won’t need ProRAW photos for day to day activities. So they won’t even bother with 48-megapixel shots on an iPhone.

You cannot take 48 megapixel live photos

When taking photos on iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, you can use the Live Photos mode that was available on iPhone since iPhone 6s.

However, you cannot activate ProRAW and Live Photos at the same time. This means that all Live Photos images will be 12 megapixels.

48-megapixel photos will require more memory

Apple didn’t address storage during the show, although it did hint that the iPhone 14 Pro models improve light capture while maintaining a practical photo size of 12 megapixels.

Also, Apple didn’t mention the actual sizes of the 48MP images. But the Settings menu above tells you that each 48MP ProRAW image will require about 75MB of storage. This is three times more than 12 megapixel ProRAW images. By comparison, a 12-megapixel non-ProRAW photo would only require about 1.5 MB of memory.

iPhone 14 Pro requires a 48MP camera.
iPhone 14 Pro requires a 48MP camera. Image Source: Chris Smith, BGR

These are estimates, but ProRAW files can be even larger, as Austin Mann showed in his iPhone 14 Pro camera review.

If you’re a professional photographer who uses an iPhone for work, you’ll have to consider the storage factor. The base 128GB storage tier might not be enough for all your 48MP photo needs. You may want to upgrade your local storage or opt for iCloud plans that offer more space.

Also be aware that iPhone 14 Pro models with only 128GB of storage will not support ProRes 4K video recording at 30fps. Instead, you’ll have to make do with 1080p.

The biggest problem with the iPhone 14 Pro camera: data transfer

Whether you are a camera enthusiast or a professional photographer, you should prepare for a challenge that is even bigger than the amount of memory.

Transferring all those 48MP photos that take up a lot of storage and 4K video isn’t as fast as it could be.

Your options are a Lightning connection with USB 2.0 speed limiting or downloading iCloud Photos. Both can be cumbersome depending on a variety of factors.

Lightning port for iPhone 13 Pro
Lightning port for iPhone 13 Pro Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

There is a third option here – Apple’s AirDrop functionality. However, it only allows you to transfer files between Apple devices. This means you can move photos and videos to your iPad and Mac. Or on someone else’s iOS, iPadOS, and macOS devices. Apple has developed a new support document that covers iPhone 14 Pro 48MP photo management.

Separately, in the same review of the iPhone 14 Pro camera from Austin Mann, data transfer issues are considered.

The USB-C port on the iPhone will solve this problem. An alternative could be an improved AirDrop interface that can handle faster data transfers more reliably than the current variant. Both of these features are reportedly in development for future generations of the iPhone.

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